The One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge

Everyone of us knows we ought to be spending time working “on” our business and not just “in” our business. It’s incredibly easy to spend every working moment on day-to-day activities and never carve out any time to concentrate on organizational health and purposeful growth.

Can we purpose together to break that business-killing practice in 2020?

Join me and other committed business owners for –

The One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge

Here’s how it works. Sign up using the form below. Every Monday in 2020, I’ll email you an exercise that will focus your attention on one important discipline in your organization. That exercise will take about 30 minutes to complete.

For those 30 minutes, you’ll pull away from all the things that clamor for your attention operationally and focus on one important part of your business. At the end of the year, if you do all the exercises, that means you’ll have spent about 26 hours, i.e. the better part of a work week, working on things that impact the long-term organizational health of your business.

The first week’s exercise is at the bottom of this page. It will let you see what the exercises look like. Some will be more detailed like this one and some will be more simple. The first one is about people, but over the course of the year, we’ll be looking at people, culture, business continuity, messaging, value creation, pricing, technology, finance, vendor management, social media, measurement and more.

Ready to join other committed owners and managers who are going to spend time working on their business and not just in their business in 2020?

Here’s the sign-up.

Join the One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge

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Here’s the Week One Exercise.

The One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge :: Week One :: People :: Critical Path

List three people whose absence, if they quit or were unable to work, would have significant operational impact on the business.

  1. _______________________________________
  2. _______________________________________
  3. _______________________________________


For each of those people, identify the operational impact.

  1. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On the graph below, plot the three people listed above based on their probability of leaving and the risk to the organization if they were to leave.

Presumably, if they made it into this exercise, they’re going to land in the top half of the graph – i.e. their departure poses a risk to the organization. There are two situations that could make a departure particularly perilous –


In either of these situations, the urgency for addressing a departure ratchets up significantly. For this exercise, the action items below assume the only variable is the employee’s decision to stay or go. However, no person or company is exempt from unplanned events. That being the case, addressing these Critical Path employee issues is always urgent even if the current employee(s) is the most loyal and dependable in the organization.

For all the employees in this exercise (on both sides of the vertical axis), create the list below.

Employee Most Critical Skill Successor Percent Ready
Mary Set up new vendor Hannah 50
Bob Enter new orders Alice 20
Mary Do Payroll Steve 0
Tim Update Admin Settings in CRM Sarah 80

It’s possible, maybe even desirable, that a single employee will be listed more than once. If they have more than one critical path skill or single point of failure capability, you might want to split those skills and capabilities among multiple successors thereby eliminating the single point of failure. List the successors and their percent of readiness.

Create an action plan for each successor to make them proficient in the critical path responsibilities. The plan should include –


Assign mentors for each activity (it might be someone besides the current employee), establish milestones and set target completion dates. Check in with the mentors and successors to ensure that skills transfer is taking place.

If you have no one in the organization who could successfully execute the work of these critical path employees, start the process of recruiting, hiring and onboarding suitable successors. In addition to your normal regimen of finding new employees with shared values and cultural fit, add the skills required for these tasks to the job requirements.

Finally, for those employees who plot to the right of the vertical axis (high risk to the organization and likely to leave), move quickly to mitigate the risk. What can you do to keep them in the organization until you’ve identified and trained a successor? If they are seeking greater challenges, can you assign them more interesting work while they identify and train their own successor? Given the critical nature of the activities it might be unlikely, but can you identify a vendor, contractor or consultant who could step in if the employee’s departure put the business at risk?

Finally a bit of homework (definitely more than the 30 minute exercise). Document the work of every critical path employee. Create documentation that details –

If successors are not on board when you start this documentation process, you might have to do it yourself to make sure it’s complete and easy to follow.